Friday, February 17, 2017

In which you're just gonna have to get your own snacks and toilet paper.

Did you feel a slight seismic tremor yesterday? It was a woman saying, "Fuck right off." Except in nicer language.

My pal serves on a volunteer board of four men and four women. Every year, they have a big to-do board retreat. It's off-site with tons of food and a program and it's just A Thing. Yesterday, the woman who has planned it for the last several years asked for help.

Woman No. 2 immediately volunteered. Woman No. 3 is gravely ill and so was off the hook. And then? Then, the entire board turned and looked at my friend, Woman No. 4.

They just looked at her. They fully expected that she would / should be the person to volunteer.

(I know. I know! This is the part of the story where my eyes rolled so far back in my head that I could see myself having a stroke. Because all women have been there, right? We've been there, we've just done shit because it needed to get done, we've been the person who is suddenly responsible for some shit job because for the love of all that is holy, no one else seemed to notice that SOMEONE NEEDS TO BUY TOILET PAPER REGULARLY. My friend's situation has played out time and time and time again.)

But my brave, strong friend was not having it. Not on this particular Thursday. No.

She said, "I'm happy to help. But I'm not OK with this being an all-woman committee."

All the men just stared at her. The male board chair turned red, laughed nervously, and said, "Well, why not? Nothing wrong with that, right?"

And Woman No. 4 said, "Nope. We need gender diversity. The board is nicely balanced with four men and four women. The planning committee needs to be balanced, too."

And then? Silence.

And more silence.

Finally, the guy she knew would eventually volunteer did. The board moved on. And the guy sitting next to Woman No. 4 leaned in and whispered, "No, thank you. I already had my turn organizing that retreat."

To her credit (or not?), my friend did not immediately start screaming, "What, Bruce? What? You helped carry some trays of food into the building six years ago and now you're off the hook for infinity? What? Are you even capable of feeding yourself? Because you seem pretty spineless to me!"

Instead, she gave him The Eye. But the entire conversation caused a slight seismic shift in the meeting and, hopefully, the world.

At home, my friend's husband laughed and said, "You're just lucky none of the men said their wives could help."

Then she killed him and made it look like an accident.

There's so much unaccounted labor. Unvalued labor, unpaid labor. Who schedules the meetings? Who sends the reminders? Who makes sure the supplies don't run out? Who never gets thanked or paid for this work that just magically gets done? This work that half the population doesn't even seem to realize exists?

I think we should get t-shirts made that say, "If you weren't stranded without toilet paper today, thank a woman."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

When stress explodes, scars you, and frightens young children.


I've written a bit about how I am ... kind of holding on? I'm internalizing stress related to goingson in the world and my sweet Big Doodle is making sleep a rare commodity. These are times that try women's souls.

I thought I was doing OK. I really did. And then My Guy and I went to a Super Bowl party.

We weren't much invested in the game, seeing as how our teams had lost during the playoffs. But we were looking forward to hanging out with our friends and their kids and eating our weights in snack foods.

All was well. I had a plate of vegan pizza and was about to dig in when I coughed. And that cough made something in my neck erupt. Pain and tears ensued. Basically, I got a charlie horse in my neck. Like the winner that I am.

I stepped away from the group and rolled around on the floor, trying to yoga my way out of the pain. No dice. I discovered I could barely swallow. I started to cry in earnest while clutching my husband's arm, begging him, "Don't leave me!" while he looked like a trapped animal and responded, "I don't know what to do!"

Marriage is super-fun and glamorous, yo.

God love our host, a doctor of pharmacy. "Pharmacist" just doesn't seem to cut it here - I think his actual title is "Giver of Life and Taker-Awayer of Pain," because he gave me a muscle relaxant and a heating pad. Within 10 minutes of communing with my new life partner the heat pack, I felt good enough to leave my cave of despair and rejoin the party.

I played a board game with the kids and discovered that my neck was all discolored and weird.
Seriously. This shit is amazing.

And then the muscle relaxant kicked in and I could hardly keep my eyes open. So, I spent the end of the Super Bowl passed out on the floor in front of the TV, acting as an example for the kids of why you shouldn't abuse prescription meds.

Honestly, I don't understand why we don't get invited places. Between My Guy's crazy faces and my obvious drug problem, we are a living warning to our friends' kids. Stay in school, friends.

But the neck explosion was more than just an amazing party trick. It was yet another reminder that This Is Not A Sustainable Model. I can't keep getting up with the dog at all hours of the night. I need to self-preserve while still being an engaged citizen. I have to find a way to balance this shit out so that I quit scaring the children.

Y'all? I am so tired. And my dog is not well.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

In which I feel all the stress.

This morning, I was wracked with anxiety over something that happened in 1983.

I was in third grade and, as youngsters of my ancient generation were wont to do, I learned cursive. One day, we were assigned what I'm sure was supposed to be a "fun" task. We were to pick our favorite cursive letter and then write words that started with that letter - an animal, any sentence of our choosing, five names.

Five names.

I chose the letter L. And my little third-grade brain completely freaked out and couldn't think of five names that started with L. So, I carefully wrote out "Laura, Lonnie, Larry, Larueow, Leaomy." You know, in hopes that those last two were maybe, like, names? Names that kids would not be privy to, but that adults knew, and then my teacher would be super-impressed at my knowledge of obscure names?

Yeah. It didn't work that way. My page of lined writing paper came back with a big ol' "-2" at the top. I was heartbroken.

This morning in the shower, I found myself listing L names ... Laura, Laurie, Lorrie, Lori, Lauren, Laurel ... my God, I am so prepared now. I could pass with just women's names alone! And yet, I'm still anxious about that long-ago assignment and feel that I need to be prepared lest someone approaches me on the street and demands that I rattle off five names that start with the letter L.

It could happen.

This particular flavor of anxiety is just one of the cornucopia that I'm experiencing as of late. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who finds themselves saying, "He did what? Are you effing KIDDING ME?!?" at least once a day.

So, there's that. And there's my sweet Big Doodle, he of the bladder cancer and advanced age and zero patience.

Big Doodle can't sleep through the night anymore. Bless his heart, he will wake me up to let him outside. This can happen any time between 3 and 6 a.m. I take him downstairs, he does his thing, I go potty out of solidarity, and then we go back to bed. Or not, as the case may be.

I seem to have lost the ability to go back to sleep after I've been up. That has made life ... challenging. And Big Doodle's lack of any hip sockets to speak of means that he isn't always so psyched about going back upstairs after doing his thing.

Sometimes, we lie on the couch. Others, we go to the downstairs guest room. He sleeps and I ... try? I don't want him to feel abandoned, so if he doesn't go back upstairs, I don't either. Besides, we are having more Doodle Dementia Days.

You know, like the night he wanted to sit in the middle of the patio and look at the moon at 3 a.m. Or today, when he was going bonkers inside the house but would do nothing but bark at the sky when let outside.
I see this a lot.

I just got off of a work call. At the start of the call, all was calm and bright. Both dogs were asleep - Lil' Frankfurter in my lap, Big Doodle on a couch at the other end of the house. But about halfway through the call, Big Doodle came sauntering into my office. He got right up in my face and blarfed out the loudest, most "Oh dear God, are you dying?" hack that you've ever heard.

The good news is that the guy I was talking to laughed with me when I explained what happened. But for the rest of the call, Big Doodle would lie still and then cough cough HACK mucus HACK unexpectedly. I just kept my hand over my microphone unless I was actively speaking.

It might have been a career-limiting moment.

But I decided to focus on the funny. Do you know how much mucus an 80-pound dog can produce? Especially a geriatric 80-pound dog who has no personal etiquette? It's a lot of mucus. Mucus that he wants to show you by getting right up in your face. Because he loves you.

I should probably be feeling anxiety about this instead of something that happened when I was in third grade. It's not like that cursive assignment prevented me from going to college or anything. I don't look back on it as the turning point when it all went to hell.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm working on perspective. Sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don't. And stress and weariness are making themselves known in odd and powerful ways.

How's with you? And what are your favorite / worst ways stress shows up in your life?